- Jul. 15, 2009
- Farrar comes frustratingly close as nervous Tour rides on
The Tour de France continued on its march toward the Alps today on stage 11, a mostly flat course containing only two small climbs with a flat run-in to the finishperfectly matched for the legs of the world’s top sprinters, including Garmin-Slipstream’s young rocket, Tyler Farrar. Nonetheless, two breakaway riders gave it their best to foil the hopes of the sprinters’ teams, riding off the front for over 150 km before being caught near the end of the stage.
After a relaxed day yesterday, the Tour heated up significantly during today’s stage, as narrow roads and a four minute gap to the breakaway forced riders to scramble for good position in the pack while the pace increased. The rural roads were filled with fans, often times barely leaving enough room for the churning pack to squeeze by. There were several crashes on the day, with Garmin riders Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde both going down as overzealous fans crowded the course. Fortunately, both riders were able to easily finish the stage and appeared to be in decent shape, all things considered.
As the stage neared its end, Columbia-HTC and Team Milram, along with the boys from Garmin, all put riders at the front to bring back the breakaway and ensure a sprint finish. Time trial specialists Danny Pate and David Zabriskie both put in hard turns at head of the field for Garmin, hoping that their man Farrar could pull out the elusive sprint victory against the Columbia machine. With several corners and an uphill finish, this stage appeared to give sprint contenders their best chances yet of beating the insanely-fast Mark Cavendish. As the lead-outs trains pulled off on the last turn, Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Oscar Friere and Farrar were left to battle it out on the steep incline. And although Tyler was able to easily come around every other rider, Cavendish again proved to be too strong, beating the Garmin sprinter by a half bike length.
At 25 years of age, Farrar is only getting stronger and more confident with each race. It is only a matter of time before he gets that first Grand Tour stage victory.
The race continues tomorrow with a 212 km undulating stage that will certainly test the legs of the sprinters. Garmin-Slipstream’s Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde both remain solidly in the top ten overall, with Wiggins just 46 seconds back of the Maillot Jaune.
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